PAW Pekoe Acupuncture and Wellness Center, PLLC Washington, DC Wed, 24 Jun 2015 21:20:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hey! We Know a Little About the Vagus Nerve, Too! Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:34:50 +0000 Do you know what the Vagus nerve is? Probably not, and that’s ok.

It’s the longest cranial nerve in the body, traveling down from the brain stem into the abdomen. It handles a ton of those involuntary functions that your body needs to do without thinking about. (Breathing, your heart beating, digesting food, etc.) It’s incredibly important, and touches pretty much every major system in your body.

So of course modern medicine is doing its best to monkey around with it.

There was an article in Wired recently that detailed (in a pretty jabbering nerdy manner) all of the plans that are being put in place and on their way to being approved by the FDA, including:

  • Various Implants that trigger electrical signals to the Vagus nerve, which in one case might help with epilepsy, and in another might help with…um…depression. I mean, we know it isn’t actually shock treatment, but are they or are they not zapping people with electricity to help with perceived mental illness?
  • More implants that apparently block the impulse to eat, which could help people suffering from obesity! Diet and exercise are so stone aged!
  • Treating headaches, not with implants but with electrical stimulation of the Vagus nerve! Again with the electricity!

Look, far be it from us to stand in the way of modern medicine. We’re big fans. But we know what the Vagus nerve is too. It’s actually a bit part of how we treat our clients. We can treat depression and headaches, and we can do it without using surgical implants or electric shocks. We can help with obesity, too.

We would urge you to consider coming to us if you are having problems that you can’t get sorted. Give our acupuncture treatment a try, or come talk to our functional medicine specialists. You’d be amazed at what can be handled without the use of devices or invasive surgeries.

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Take the Pekoe Water Challenge! Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:25:12 +0000 Beautiful curly girl drinking water from a glass

Hot out there, huh? We’re willing to bet a few of you forgot what DC summers were like during the winter. Heat, yes, but also that glorious, prototype East Coast humidity. You can see the haze hanging over the Potomac, and you can feel the sweat pool in the small of your back, and you think to yourself “Man, these August days are really something!” Then you remember that it’s only June, and you burst into tears.

Don’t worry. It does get better, and it normally doesn’t stay this way for all of June. Believe it or not, summer weather has a bit of tendency to fluctuate. It’s just that when we get one of those five or ten day stretches of heat, the humidity makes it seem intolerable.

So, listen. It’s pretty easy to forget to handle a pretty crucial part of taking care of yourself when you are distracted from the heat and humidity, but please remember to stay hydrated. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” you are probably thinking. “I’m covered in sweat and really thirsty. Of course I’m going to stay hydrated.” But see, since you are covered in sweat and really thirsty, you are already dehydrated, and probably have been for a while.

A common misconception is that being dry-mouthed is the starting point of dehydration. It isn’t. It’s the sadly belated point where your body lets you know that you need some water. And you might not realize this, but your body needs quite a lot of it.

How much exactly? The commonly accepted amount is 64 ounces per day for a body to run efficiently, and if you remember your multiplication tables, means that you should drink 8 8 ounce classes per day. Now, nobody is expecting you to drink that all at once. We would recommend carrying one of those fancy, new-fangled water bottles, sipping periodically, and refilling it when needed.

So why should you do that? Why carry around a bucket of water? What happens if you don’t? Lots of bad stuff.

Lack of Energy: Tired all the time despite sleeping 8 hours or more a night? It might have something to do with your body having to expend more energy for basic tasks because it doesn’t have the materials that it needs. Like water.

Dry Skin: Hey, Flakey McAshington, has it occurred to you that you might not have to spend that much money on lotion every week? Seriously. If you drink enough water you’ll find that your skin will rebound a lot faster than it used to.

Headaches: There are lots of different causes of headaches. But they happen a lot easier if your body is dehydrated.

Constipation: We’ll avoid a pithy remark here. Just drink water, ok?

Do your friends at Pekoe a favor: For one week, try actually drinking 8 glasses of water every day. And we mean WATER, not sports drinks, or Red Bull, or juice. We mean just plain water. Just try it. See what happens. We guarantee you that your skin will look better, you will have more energy, and you will be able to concentrate better at work or school. It works! It really does! And with summer here your body needs it more than ever. Here’s some tips to make water interesting and delicious!!

Hydration pro tip #1: Drink room temperature or warm drinks instead of ice cold. You shouldn’t be using a lot of ice in your beverages anyway, your body takes a lot of energy to warm it up before digestion, which increases your body temp! If you’re ingesting warmer drinks, your body can easily acclimate to the heat.


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Help Our Friend With Love Triangle Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:23:23 +0000 Cancer is just about the worst thing in the world. We can say that with confidence. It’s an insidious, creeping, disease that kills people. It’s painful, and treatment is expensive, especially here in the States.

We are big fans of Obamacare. We really are. It made it a lot easier for people to get insurance, and it stopped a lot of the pretty horrible abuses that insurance companies were getting away with for years. You know, things like lifetime limits that could be reached after two days in the emergency room, or insurance that was actually just a coupon, or insurance that could be cancelled for insignificant reasons right when you needed it. So while it’s great our insurance system is better, it still isn’t perfect.

A lot of people are choosing high deductible insurance, meaning that they’ll still owe thousands of dollars if they get injured or sick. And your insurance might cover the treatment, but it won’t cover your bills or rent or mortgage, and going through treatment for cancer is not the sort of thing that you can do at work.

So you shouldn’t be surprised if you see a Go Fund Me campaign or two regarding medical bills. Obamacare is great, but it doesn’t fix anything. Sometimes people need help, financial and otherwise.

We recently found out that a very dear friend of ours had been diagnosed with cancer. In true keeping with her personality, she didn’t want to make a big production out of it. We were totally willing to respect her privacy, and we still are. But we were not at all willing to let her go bankrupt while she went through treatment, so we participated in a fundraising event.

Three different Clubs held events over three days this weekend. On Friday night it was at Flash, on Saturday night it was at U Street Music Hall, and on Sunday it was at the 18th Street Lounge. An amazing time was had by all, and a lot of money was raised to help our friend.

We want to encourage people to attend these venues that gave so generously of their time and space. And we also want to encourage people to continue to donate to help our friend with her expenses.

Here is the link to her fundraising page. Please help. We love her a lot.

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Meet Your Pekoe Staff: Q&A with Arlene Manier Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:11:59 +0000 Explain to me what reflexology is.

It’s the idea that our organs inside and our extremities outside can be manipulated and healed through zones in your feet, hands, and ears. Personally, I’ve been focusing on the feet, because the feet aren’t always respected, but we’re totally dependent on them. Without our feet we have no mobility, and our security is diminished, and aside from that our feet can be the prime indicators when our bodies are telling us that something is wrong. For instance, I once treated a guitarist, and she was experiencing shoulder stiffness. Ordinarily, you would think that shoulder pain is treated with a massage around the shoulders, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but there are also other ways to go about it. So I focused on her feet with both a foot bath and some treatment, and her feet let me know what was going on with the rest of her body. Her toes were really stiff and stuck together, to the point where I couldn’t even get a finger in between them. So with reflexology, If you look at your foot, the transverse zones of the toes are your eyes and ears and nose, and everything dealing with your sinuses, and from the middle to the ball of your feet involve your chest and your heart and lungs, and so on and so on. Each part of your foot directly affects a specific part of your body. So once I work all the zones, I’m able to completely reset your body. When the guitarist left my chair, she had no shoulder pain. It was like she was a completely different person. She had absolute relief.

Is it just through the feet?

No, you can also treat through the ears. If you look at your ears, you can see the outline of an upside down baby. The head is near the lobes and the feet are near the top of your ears, and with reflexology through the ears you use the the same principal of zones. Each part of your ear has a corresponding body part that benefits when you treat it.

What do reflexology treatments do for your patients?

It helps with insomnia, depression, pain, energy loss, and all sorts of other things.

How does it work?

Reflexologists do bodywork in a specific circular motion, and this replicates the pattern of the movement of your cells and the DNA in your blood cells. You can feel the effects pretty quickly. Most of my clients go into a sleepy state shortly after I get my hands on them.

Do you knock people out?

Sometimes, yeah. Actually, the ultimate compliment to me is when I hear snoring. But once you get out of treatment you feel positive and refreshed.

How did you get started? What piqued your interest in this?

This is an old calling. I was born in the Philippines, and I came here when I was 4.  In my mom’s family, everyone touched one another. There was a lot of rubbing of feet and backs and shoulders. So when I was a kid it was kind of forced on me. My mom worked at a cake factory, and was on her feet 12 hours a day pouring batter, and she’d come home aching. And she’d ask me to rub her feet. So ever since I can remember, right up until the point where I ran off and joined the Marine Corps, she always made me rub her feet, and everything in between, really. At the time I resented it somewhat, but looking back on it, that really helped me learn about muscles. Not just random rubbing, but how to really feel what was right and what was wrong in a muscle group. Anyway, I joined the Marine Corps, served, and after that I was a legal secretary, which my time in the Marine Corps made me perfectly suited to do.

Sure. There’s procedure, and there’s things that you do every time….

Right. There’s a right way to do it and that’s how you do it every time. In that way the Marines and being a legal secretary were pretty similar. But after awhile, things started to get pretty cut-throat. A lot of firms were cutting benefits, and rolling sick leave into vacation leave, assigning more attorneys to fewer secretaries, and doing a lot of things that felt shady to me. That sort of thing really makes employees feel under-valued, especially when they’ve been working for you for a long time. So at one point I was doing the work for 6 attorneys, and at that point I had been working as a legal secretary for 16 years, and I had decided that enough was enough, and I stopped.

So how did you get to Pekoe?

Well, I knew Nicole (Mires, owner of Pekoe) through mutual friends, and a mutual friend of ours got tired of seeing me mope around, and my friend asked Nicole if she would just get me in there to answer the phones, just to get me out of the apartment. The thinking was, “She was a secretary at multiple law firms, she can certainly handle answering phones.” So after the high pressure life of D.C. law firms, I came into this wonderful place of light and peace and love, and I just instantly felt better about everything. And Nicole and Jeff and Dalila and everybody were all so supportive.

And you moved from phones to footbaths.

Right, well, Pekoe was offering them, but only a few days a week, and people were always getting moved around. And after a while, Nicole trusted me enough to learn how to run the footbaths, which made sense, because I was there answering the phones anyway. And I started to make the footbaths an event, you know? And they are! It feels like you are on the beach, with the smell, and the salt water. And people get their feet wrapped, they get rubbed, and they get pampered. So those were going really well, and Nicole saw that I was just naturally good at working with feet, which, again, I got from years of helping my Mom out when she got back from work. So eventually she thought it would be a good idea for me to take a look at reflexology. And at that point I had an epiphany. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t have been running away from that sort of thing the whole time, but to be fair, it’s hard to get excited about something that your mother forces you to do when you are a kid. But it turns out that really helped and gave me a great platform to build on. I had about 15 years of experience in rubbing feet already, and now I had an opportunity to hone that experience, and I started to love it.

How long does the footbath or reflexology treatment take?

I can have you down there for a while! But it’s recommended that the foot bath takes about 15 to 30 minutes. But I revamped the whole treatment. It’s no longer as clinical as it used to be. It’s half spa, but it’s definitely a treatment. It’s not like you are getting a physical at the clinic. I put heat packs on your shoulders and back to aid in detoxing, I use aromatherapy, I do the temples and the ear reflexology. But with reflexology alone, it takes me about an hour to get all the way through the zones.

How did you end up in DC?

Well, I grew up in the South Side of Chicago, near Cabrini Green and all that. And it wasn’t the nicest of neighborhoods. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the back yard when I was a kid. I thought I really needed discipline, because I was thinking that if I stayed in Chicago, that city was going to kill me. So my Dad was in the Navy, and there was an aspect of me wanting to do him one better, so I joined the Marine Corps.

Wow. Where did you do boot camp?

Parris Island. That was some culture shock, I can tell you right now. But during my service some people I was serving with were going to go up to DC and do the Marine Corps Marathon, so I decided to go with them and volunteer. I was on the side giving people water and everything. But I fell in love with this city instantly. It had its own unique feel and flavor, and everybody here was really doing something and committed to what they were doing, and even the Redskins were winning, and I thought that this was just the place to be. So once I got out of the Marine Corps, I moved to DC. And after a bit, I had an apartment, and my car was paid for, and I had a daughter, and I was doing really well here, and honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to do all that in Chicago. It’s been a beautiful progression to get here.

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We Support the Pride Parade. You Should Too. Sat, 13 Jun 2015 17:36:36 +0000 This month marks the Pride Parade in DC and a lot of other cities, both major and minor, and we here at Pekoe happen to be big fans of both the parade and the sentiment.

The Pride Parade happens in June for a very good reason. Back in June of 1969, a bar called the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan was raided by the police. It was raided for three reasons. First, it didn’t have a liquor license. Second, it was a bar frequented by gay men for the purpose of dancing. And third, the guy who was managing the place was behind in the bribes that he was paying to the police so the police wouldn’t raid the place for being both an unlicensed liquor establishment and a gay bar, both of which were illegal at the time.

It’s easy to forget that homosexuality used to be illegal. It’s also easy to forget that in a lot of states people would be arrested and carry criminal records for the rest of their lives if they were caught engaging in homosexual acts. And we mean criminal. It was a felony in a lot of states. And a lot of states were actually devoting time and resources to try to catch homosexuals “in the act,” which says less about gay people and more about where we were as a country.

People would lose their jobs if they were found out to be gay. The government wouldn’t hire gay people for fear of blackmail, which was pretty rich considering that the police department in New York was blackmailing tons of gay bars. People had to live lives that were disguised and guarded, despite being consenting adults who were not hurting anybody.

The standard operating procedure when the police raided a gay bar was for everyone to meekly wander outside and get into the back of the police truck, then taken to the police station, then booked, and then to have their lives ruined. All for gathering with other consenting, like-minded people and having a few drinks.

But this time, the patrons involved did not go meekly. Some of them didn’t go at all. Some of them in fact rioted.

We aren’t big fans of rioting. There are a million different ways to get your point across without throwing trash cans and breaking windows. But in this case we’d like to think that we would have been right there with them.

Shortly after the riot, gay people began to organize and march. Part of it was to make a political point, and part of it was to show people that gays and lesbians were not freaks. They weren’t creepy lizard people looking to convert the innocent. They were, and still are, perfectly normal human beings who occupy positions in every strata of society. They are your friends, neighbors, and relatives.

It’s easy to become complacent considering the speed with which gay marriage has become the law of the land in so many states, and considering how in many places, open homophobia is met with scorn and embarrassment. But you have to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that beating up gay people was considered a sport in some circles. And there are also lots of places where discrimination against gays is considered “religious liberty.” Pride marches are not just a matter of ensuring that gays and lesbians have equal rights. It’s also a matter of making sure that they keep them. So if there’s a pride march in your city, support it, ok? Ok.


gay pride flag painted on a wall

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Help Pekoe Help Disabled Washingtonians Sun, 17 May 2015 03:30:57 +0000 It is difficult for the majority of us to imagine life in a wheelchair. Most of us probably think about things like navigating curbs or stairs, or not being able to play basketball, or dance, or turn on the faucet in the tub with our toes.

But there are thousands of other aspects to life in a wheelchair that don’t even occur to us. There are  things like getting in and out of bed using only your upper body, or cooking in a kitchen where the stove is above your head. There are things like pressure sores and muscular atrophy from not being able to move your legs.

And there are things like what happens to your body after spending the most of your time in a wheelchair. We all know that sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day isn’t great for your posture, your blood pressure, your energy level, or anything else. Imagine having to stay in a chair for 12 to 16 hours a day. Imagine having to use your arms and shoulders to move everywhere. Life in a wheelchair takes a toll, in every possible way.

Therapeutic massage does wonders to help with the physical strain of being in a wheelchair. It helps with pain relief in the upper limbs and the torso, and can even help prevent muscle strain from repetitive motion.

Pekoe massage therapist Jeff Kuykendall is working with the DC Center for Independent Living to provide free massage for people with disabilities. He will be donating the cost of half of his time, and is hoping that donations will make up the other half.

There are two ways that you can help. The first is to make an add-on donation when you book a massage or other treatment at Pekoe Wellness. The second is to make a donation by way of Jeff’s special Go Fund Me page that will help cover the costs to Jeff. Disabled people will pay nothing for treatment.

Pekoe has a ramp at the front door as well as a lift on the staircase that can get disabled people down to our extra treatment rooms. We’re proud to offer this service to the community, and we hope that you will help.

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Working on Weight at Pekoe Sun, 17 May 2015 03:14:33 +0000 “Obesity” is a word that keeps showing up in the news lately, and there are a few things that bother us about all the coverage. Most of the articles seem to take the position that obesity in America is something that just fell from the sky, or that it’s something you catch, like the flu or a cold.

To be sure, there are lots of people who are genetically inclined towards being overweight or obese, but that doesn’t account for all the others. And there are a lot of them.

According to the National Institute of Health, 2 out of 3 American adults are either overweight or obese, and one-third of children are considered obese. America definitely has a weight problem.

Bear in mind, we certainly aren’t “fat-shaming.” That’s a particularly repulsive and unkind way of getting at the problem. If being overweight caused absolutely no health problems whatsoever, we’d probably be heading straight for the nearest McDonald’s ourselves. But obesity does cause health problems, and since health is our business, we have every reason to be concerned. Diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer, and strokes all have higher rates of incidence in the overweight and the obese. We’d like that sort of thing to not happen to people.

So why are so many of us heavier than normal here in the States? Here are a few reasons:


Sedentary Lifestyles

A few decades ago, most Americans actually used to really work for a living. We mean that they really worked. They got up before sunrise and tilled the fields, or went to the assembly line. They mostly walked everywhere. There weren’t a lot of health clubs and gyms back then because people spent most of their day exercising. True, the exercise was manual labor, but that’s still burning a ton of calories.

Now we all get up and drive to work. And for most of us, “work” is sitting at a desk, and we move our fingers across the keyboard, and we sometimes use our wrists to move the mouse, and sure, it’s not like we aren’t doing anything, but we can’t help but think that if a farmer from 1920 looked at what we call “work,” he probably wouldn’t stop laughing.

Even recreation was hard work back then. Everyone played outside. Tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer, or whatever. Now we lie on the couch and watch two seasons of “Arrow” over a weekend.


While we have to admit that our taste has gotten a lot better over the past few years (more organic markets, better ingredients) let’s admit that we still eat a lot more than we need. Our portion sizes are enormous. We get offered baskets of free bread when we go to restaurants. We have been conditioned to eat until we are full instead of eating until we are no longer hungry.

Let’s also consider that the food that isn’t organic or made from the good ingredients is cheap and plentiful. You can get seven hundred calories of processed food and a corn-syrup cocktail soda for three dollars at any fast food restaurant. And for those of us who aren’t blessed with decent incomes, this sort of food is often the only thing to eat. So-called “food deserts” are pretty common in a lot of our low-income areas. This is when an area has fast food or markets with chips and candy and soda as the only options for food shopping. A very ironic aspect of our current food and nutritional make up is that the cheapest food causes the most weight gain, so quite often, those of us with the least amount of money have the most problems with obesity.

So how do you get past it? How do you avoid gaining weight when there’s a ton of cheap food everywhere, and your job involves you sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to just sit on the couch and watch TV until it’s time to go to bed?



Are we suggesting that you go out and do a triathalon? Are we suggesting that you start learning how to do parkour? No. We’re suggesting that you start with walking around the block.

Baby steps are completely ok when you are talking about exercise.  In fact, we highly recommend starting with baby steps. Giving it too much too soon can actually give you an injury, and that won’t do much for your confidence or your intentions to keep exercising.

So go out and walk around the block. Try doing it every day for a week. Then the next week try walking around two blocks. You’ll find it gets easier and easier. Then try walking everywhere. Try walking to the store, or walking to work if it’s possible. The point is to get yourself moving, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. After awhile, you will find yourself looking forward to it, and even craving it.

Here’s something else you should consider: yoga.

Yes, we know that it seems trendy, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s trendy because it works. It increases strength, flexibility, and endurance, and all you need is a mat and the ability to follow directions. A lot of people prefer that to going on bone-jarring jogs or grunting with weights. Pekoe has yoga classes two nights a week. Come in and try it!


Diets! Look at all the diets! Look at paleo! Look at the Miami Beach diet! Look at the Atkins diet! Look at them all! Then forget about them.

Nutrition and food choices are much more important than diets. And the first step towards making good food choices is making sure that you are eating food that actually has nutrition.

Try to avoid processed meats and high fructose corn syrup. Drink lots of water, and try to get in as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Try to avoid overdoing it with the sweets. It’s completely ok to splurge occasionally, but don’t make splurging an everyday occurrence.

If you need help with making good choices, come see us. We have nutritionists and cooking classes that can get you on the right track. We also have functional medicine services that can help you come up with both exercise and diet plans that are specific to your needs.

Remember, baby steps are ok. That’s how we all learn how to walk.

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Q&A with Glenn Seth, Massage Therapist Sun, 17 May 2015 02:57:51 +0000 How long have you been doing massage?

I’ve been doing massage for 13 years.

How did you get started?

I got started in the fitness industry after I got out of the Marine Corps. I started doing personal training, and ended up specializing in kettle bell training, and I started my own studio with a few coaches underneath me. We do small group and individual training there. But the training that I do is pretty intense, and the massage aspect of it grew out of it.

You have a certain name for the massage that you do. Tell us about it.

It’s called Intuitive Touch Bodywork. It’s a culmination of years and years of training at different high end spas, and learning different techniques like reflexology, sports stretching, and facilitated stretching. I coined that as a name for my massage, mainly because I’ve been doing it for so long that I can feel what the body needs. When I work with somebody I don’t have a set protocol or sequence. I just let my hands do the work and figure out what needs to be done. When I do the massage I move around the body the entire time. I don’t necessarily start with the leg and then move to the arm every time. I go where they need it.

Where did you go to school for massage?

I went to Virginia School of Massage, and got my certification in 2002.

Did you grow up in DC?

No. My dad is retired military, so I grew up all over the place, and then I was in the Marines. I was living in Baltimore, and I became interested in the health and fitness industry, and I figured out that being a personal trainer and a certified massage therapist made me unique, and massage became another service that I could offer to people that I was training. And that’s convenient to a lot of my clients.  A lot of my personal training clients are also my massage clients, and I can customize it for each client, because I already know about that person’s body, their flexibility, their pain points, and their strengths and weaknesses. Since I spend a lot of time working on their physical training, I know what will benefit them the most when it comes to massage.

How did you get to Pekoe?

I was working at a space in DuPont, which is near my fitness studio, and was looking to branch out a bit, and Pekoe got in touch and mentioned their facilities over at the spa room at City Market. I went over and took a look and it’s an amazing set-up.

Has physical training and massage always been something that you are interested in?

I was always interested in training and being in shape, and I was always training in the Marine Corps. The massage grew as an extension out of that.

In terms of training, did you start at the chain gyms?

When I started training I was working at places that could be described as local or regional chain gyms. But then in 2010 I branched off and started my own training studio.

Was it challenging for you to start your own business and get new clientele?

I was always able to get something happening, either with massage or training, or sometimes both. There was no shortage of places for me to work, so that helped while I was establishing things.

What did you think about working at the bigger health clubs?

It was ok. I don’t think I’d ever work at a Gold’s Gym. But those gyms were good for me in the sense that they gave me a lot of experience, and helped me learn how to do training properly. You have to do your time in the trenches to really learn how to do it. It’s the same with massage. When I got my certification in 2002, I started working at a high end spa, and that was pretty low percentage in terms of what the massage therapists were paid. But I learned a lot there. You can get something positive out of everything.

Is there anything that you want people to know about your practice and your style?

I try to approach it as providing a luxury, or a getaway, but it isn’t all fluff. It’s meant to be 100% therapeutic. It’s about helping and healing more than anything else.

Glenn Seth is available for massage Thursday through Sunday at the Pekoe Spa Room at City Market.

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Room for Health is Helping Veterans With Acupuncture Sun, 17 May 2015 02:37:37 +0000

Pekoe Wellness is very much a local business. We get involved in all sorts of local concerns, like Shaw Main Streets, or we partner up with other local businesses, like Reformation Fitness.

But not everything we get involved with is strictly in the DC area. If someone is doing something noteworthy, worthwhile, and beneficial anywhere in the world, Pekoe is on board.

As we all know, all branches of the US military have been active in foreign entanglements for over a decade now. We aren’t going to speculate on what it’s like, because we didn’t have to go. But we do know a few things:  First, quite a few of our veterans are having a difficult time making the adjustment to civilian life after spending an extended period of time in or around combat situations. Second, quite a few of our veterans are having a hard time getting treatment that helps them with that adjustment. We’ve all heard about the nightmare that is your average VA treatment center, and we’ve also heard about the alarming rate of joblessness and suicide by veterans who return home. It’s a big problem, and one that we think needs to be addressed.

We’ve been a big proponent of acupuncture for helping veterans, and this isn’t just self-interest on our part. A lot of overworked doctors are simply throwing pills at the problems, and while anti-depressants might work for the short term, they bring their own problems with them. Acupuncture can provide natural and lasting relief for any number of conditions that veterans are dealing with, from traumatic brain injuries, to chronic pain, to post-traumatic stress disorder.

A lot of organizations are offering help for veterans, but the one that we’re focusing on specifically is in Phoenix, Arizona. Ron Fishkind has set up a clinic there called Room for Health, and it’s the policy of the clinic to offer free acupuncture services for veterans.

That is not a typo. Ron gives acupuncture treatments to veterans and charges them absolutely nothing. Not one red cent, not one plugged nickel, not one thin dime. He’s out in Phoenix helping those who served us, and he isn’t making any money out of the deal.

Now, as you may surmise, rent in Phoenix is not free. And while Ron is only offering free acupuncture to veterans, this means that he is also giving up time that he could be using to make money. So Ron is relying on donations to help offset the cost the treatment that he is giving to veterans for free.

He’s got a Go Fund Me page where you can make donations to help him with this. And you really should. Veterans have spent the past decade or so dealing with a lot, and they volunteered to deal with it. So help Ron help them, and donate.

Check out Ron’s inspirational PSA for Room For Health here!!


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Meet Your Pekoe Practitioners! – Whitney Paterson, RYT Thu, 16 Apr 2015 01:01:09 +0000 headshot


How did you get started doing Ayurvedic work?

When I was in college, I started studying yoga, and through one of my yoga teachers I learned about Ayurveda.  I started studying with a teacher based in Idaho for about a year. Then I did a formal course of study at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts, and after that I went to India, where I studied under Dr. Vasant Lad. Once a year he brings a group of students to India to study and practice in his home town, and I went with him. That’s about the best practical training you can get.

How did you end up in DC? 

When I finished school in Massachusetts, my family and my sister were both living here, so it seemed like a good move to go where they were, and it turned out to be good, because I like it here.

For those of us who don’t know, can you tell us what Ayurveda means?

On a very basic level, “ayur” means “life,” and “veda” means “knowledge,” so it translates into “knowledge of life,” or “life science” if you like. It’s a pretty broad, all-encompassing philosophy that basically encourages balancing the mind, body, and spirit. On a practical level, it includes changing your daily routine to be more in tune with the seasons, it includes your diet, it includes using different treatments for your body, it includes herbal remedies, and so on and so on. It’s a 5000-year-old science that comes from India, primarily. It’s very closely related to yoga, so much to the point that it’s often called yoga’s “sister science.” Yogis used to practice Ayurveda techniques to help keep their health in tune, and nowadays practitioners use them to help people keep their lives in balance.

What services are you offering at Pekoe?

I offer one-on-one Ayurvedic consultations, where we go through diet and lifestyle to determine if there’s anything that could be causing problems in their daily lives. And in keeping with Ayurveda being a sister-science to yoga, sometimes I teach specific yoga poses that might help with specific problems that they might be having.  I also offer Abhyanga treatment, which is a hot oil massage, and Gharshan, which is a silk glove exfoliation not dissimilar to dry-brushing. I also do Sharingara treatments, which is a warm oil stream on the forehead.

Can you summarize the benefits of the consultations that you offer? 

The consultations are beneficial in that I can give clients simple tools that have a very big impact on their lives. I try to keep things simple and intuitive, and I come up with treatment and behavioral plans that make sense and aren’t going to overwhelm them. I generally recommend small changes that anyone can make, and I recommend that you have someone who can keep tabs on you to help you stick with those changes. My goal for clients is to have them be able to do what they want to do. If someone is struggling with their health, that gets in the way of them achieving their goals. And bear in mind, I understand that not everyone wants to be a yogi and give away their possessions, so what I do is create a plan for the individual according to their needs. Does this person want more energy? Does this person need help relaxing? Does this person want to experience peace of mind? Everybody is different, and everybody has different goals, so my method is to tailor a simple solution that will help. I start by looking at the whole health history, and I get as comprehensive as I possibly can. We talk about their health as a child, their health growing up, and we talk about their tendencies over a pretty lengthy time line. Someone might say that they have always had a hard time losing weight, or that they have always gone back and forth between being depressed, or that they always get sick at this time of the year, and information like that helps me determine how to help. But again, I usually recommend simple steps rather than enormous and drastic changes, because that rarely works.

What about the different treatments? 

It terms of physical treatments, my favorite is the Abhyanga treatment. It’s very nourishing and very grounding. It’s different than many other types of massage, in that it’s not really working muscles as much as it’s working energy. It’s a massage, but it isn’t deep tissue. Prior to the client arriving, I heat up herbal-medicated oil that will absorb into the skin. The type of oil and the type of herbs can vary from client to client, or how the client is feeling that day. Some oils are more appropriate to different seasons. For instance, we can use warming oil in cold weather and cooling oil in hot weather. Some oils are more specific to aches and pains, and some are meant to just help you relax. There are a lot of variations that can happen. But the massage itself involves strokes are long strokes down the long bones, and circular motions around the joints, and if someone is having a specific pain point or problem area, then I’ll spend more time on that.

I also offer Gharshana, which is silk glove exfoliation. Typically, that’s done before an oil massage, although it can be done as an individual treatment. If you do it before the oil massage it works better, because it softens your skin while getting rid of the dead skin, so it’s a great way to prepare the skin to receive the oil treatment. It also improves the circulation, which is good for the oil application. Again, it doesn’t have to happen with the oil treatment, but it makes it better.

 When it comes to things like diet and lifestyle, is Ayurvedic methodology a difficult thing to implement?

No. A lot of the recommendations that I make are fairly simple. Something as simple as establishing a routine where you go to bed at the same time at night and wake up at the same time every day can make an enormous difference in the day-to-day lives of people, and it’s a really simple thing to implement. But some people don’t do that, and don’t even know that it’s a beneficial thing for them to do.

In a town like Washington, DC, work hours can be long and varied. Is it even possible for people to implement a consistent sleep schedule? What if the circumstances don’t allow them to do that?

I absolutely understand that. With any client that I see, we have to work with what we have. So in the case of someone who has a crazy schedule, the idea is to find areas where it’s possible to help. You might not be able to simply alter the conditions of your job, so we have to find other areas.  I try to show my clients that there is a level of choice involved. With each client, I try to determine how serious their health problems are, and then I try to figure out the level of importance that they have attached to various aspects of their life. And in some cases, the choices they need to make for better health aren’t exactly fun. For instance, do you have to go to Happy Hour every day if it makes you go to bed later? Do you have to eat at Subway three times a week? Do you have to watch TV every night when you get home from work? Is an Egg McMuffin the best possible breakfast that you can have? Is four cups of coffee every day a necessity? These are questions with seemingly simple answers, but you’d be surprised how many people never get around to asking themselves the question in the first place. But since a lot of my clients are working with realistic limitations, the way I handle that is by setting realistic goals. I don’t tell any of my clients to change everything at once, because that’s a difficult thing to do. If you are successful at changing one or two things, then you can move on to others. Baby steps are OK. It’s how we all learned to walk.

Whitney Paterson is available to treat clients on weekends. 

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